10 Ways to Stop Needing to See Structured Learning

Think about how much of what you supposedly learned in school you actually remember.

If you’re like me, there is a lot of information an authority figure told you was important to know that you have long since relegated to the mental trash bin.  For instance, all of those historical dates that were supposedly so important to know?  Yeah, I probably couldn’t accurately recount 2% of them.  But I know I could find the information if I actually needed to know it.

Think about how much of what you supposedly learned in school that you actually use.

If you’re like me, beyond the basics of reading, writing, and consumer math, very little of what you actually use in your daily life came from learning what someone else decided you needed to know.  By and large, you were the one seeking out the knowledge and skills that you actually use on a daily basis.

Think about what you have learned that you actually remember and use.

Now, combine the two.  Pretty dismal, huh?  How do you feel about having years of your time wasted by someone else’s agenda?

Think about what you do when you need to know something that you don’t already know.

It is a no-brainer to me that people only need to know what they need to know.  Huh?  Well, authentic need is dictated by the knowledge and skills that people require in order to do what they want to do.  If you’re like me, when you hit a wall in pursuit of something that is meaningful to you and you need more knowledge or better skills in order to proceed, you go out and find the resources to learn the extra knowledge or skills.  No one needs to tell you to do it; you just do – if the project is meaningful enough to you.

Remember that the prescribed scope and sequence of a child’s education in school is pretty arbitrary.

A prescribed scope and sequence for a child’s education in schools exists for two reasons: crowd control and the convenience of teachers and administrators.  There is no other good reason in the world why a child must learn to read at five rather than eight or a child must wait until tenth grade for biology rather than doing it in eighth grade or eleventh grade.  

Remember that learning can take many forms.

The mental picture of learning that most of us have is a student sitting quietly at his desk with a pencil in hand and paper and a textbook in front of him.  A teacher is standing in front of all the students, talking.  That mental picture has been deeply ingrained into the American psyche over the past few generations.  But, not only is it not the only way that genuine learning will look, it is far from the best option for the overwhelming majority of people.  

This “sit down, be quiet, and either listen or read” only works well for people like me who have the good fortune (in the world most kids are forced into) to be traditional classroom learners.  Others, like my 14 year old, Erica, need to do in order to learn, and with self-directed homeschooling, she is free to choose how she will learn as well as what she will learn.  Additionally, a lot of learning can take place disguised as play, daydreaming, and even inactivity.

Read about, visit with, and learn from people who are already unschooling their children with great success.

While every child’s self-directed homeschooling will be as unique as the child herself, there is comfort for the anxiety-ridden parent in hearing from other people whose children have thrived under self-directed homeschooling.  That is actually why my kids and I started this blog!  It’s something we all believe in.

Remember that learning is a lifelong endeavor.

Stress and anxiety will make you feel like your kids have to be learning what they “should” be learning right now.  Take a deep breath.  (Everything a season).  The doors do not close on education when someone reaches 18 and graduates from high school.  If you have preserved your children’s love of learning and taught them how to learn, they will be well-equipped to learn whatever they feel a need or a desire to learn.

Remember that you cannot make someone learn.

As a parent, you definitely can make your children’s lives uncomfortable enough that they will do the schoolwork that someone else assigns them to do just to get you off their backs, but have they learned?  Does attempting to force someone to learn something move that person closer to or further away from a love of learning?  What does forcing it do to your relationships with your kids?  Is the scope and sequence of an authority a driven education worth all of that?  Is it the most important thing?

Look (silently) for the learning that is happening.
Please don’t be neurotic about this, but the evidence of real learning can be found if you look for it in unconventional places.  Tests are unnecessary.  Talk to your kids.  Experience life in their worlds with them, and invite them into yours.  They just might surprise you!

About the Author Becky

I’m a married, homeschooling mama of three who is passionate about self-directed learning.

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